What do you get when you cross the grueling, familial horror of director Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) with the whimsy and fantastical inscrutability of the likes of Charlie Kaufman or Michel Gondry? Well, the result would probably look something like the newly revealed trailer for Beau Is Afraid, the third film from Aster and A24. Described as a “surrealist comedy-drama,” and starring Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix, it seems safe to say this feature will be branching into some new territory for the critically acclaimed Aster, while still retaining some of the disturbing psychological aspects that made his first two films stand out. There hasn’t yet been a really detailed synopsis for Beau Is Afraid, meanwhile, other than the following:
Beau Is Afraid is described as a “decades-spanning surrealist horror film set in an alternate present,” in which Phoenix plays an “extremely anxious but pleasant-looking man who has a fraught relationship with his overbearing mother and never knew his father.” When his mother dies, he makes a journey home that involves some wild supernatural threats.
The nature of those threats is quite unclear, and looking at the trailer below, it’s likewise unclear whether all of this is entirely within Beau’s head. The world seems to have collapsed into some kind of anarchy, and yet when Beau is struck by a car driven by Amy Ryan’s Grace, he still wakes up in a seemingly peaceful hospital. One gets a sense that while watching Beau Is Afraid, suspension of disbelief will have to be checked at the door throughout.
One thing the film can certainly boast is a very impressive supporting cast of comedy luminaries, including the aforementioned Ryan, along with Nathan Lane, Parker Posey, Richard Kind, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Patti LuPone and others. We won’t have to wait too much longer before unraveling this particular mystery, as Beau Is Afraid hits theaters on April 21, 2023. Meanwhile, check out the trailer below.